Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) has completed the first flight trials using satellites for air-ground communication as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Iris Precursor programme.

Co-funded by The Netherlands, the flight trials were conducted to help air traffic controllers monitor an in-flight aircraft more effectively and enhance air traffic management (ATM) efficiency.

Following a contract received from the European Space Agency (ESA) and UK-based satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat, NLR carried out the flight trials using the company’s Citation research aircraft.

The trials have been carried out with an aim to develop an Iris prototype in 2019, facilitating on-board air-ground satellite communication, which would play a major role in enabling 4D navigation.

The satellite communication would enable the exchange of data, such as flight position, altitude and time, with air traffic controllers, allowing them to determine the exact location of an aircraft as well as its precise time of arrival.

"The satellite communication would enable the exchange of data, such as flight position, altitude and time, with air traffic controllers."

While technology has been tested extensively during four Citation flights to different European destinations, its performance has also been trialled out beyond the polar circle, where satellites have a lower position compared to the horizon.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

According to NLR, the system worked efficiently even when the aircraft experienced a change of frequency while travelling from one satellite beam to another.

Expected to be carried out in late 2017, the new flight trials will be able to validate the Iris technology with real aircraft systems instead of test PCs.

The Iris project aims to upgrade the European ATM, while satellite communication enables the optimal use of airspace as well as prevent it from congestion.

Satellite communication facilitates air-ground communication in areas where there are no ground stations, as found in remote regions or above the oceans.